As a relatively new freelancer, I’m the proud owner of an entire home office complete with desk, back-supporting office chair and super fast broadband – I’m basically all set up and good to go.
But for me, something was missing.
I am a terrible writer unless I have a buzz around me, creating my best work whilst spending a small fortune in my local coffee shops, hotels and even spas to shake things up a bit… Although coffee shop working is a fantastic way to go, it can eventually become an expensive habit to kick.
So, I’ve found myself a shared office (in the countryside, my home away from home as a country girl!) with a handful of creative freelancers who work together as a team as well as on their own individual projects. I get the buzz of a “normal” office, new ideas and technical support where I need it and it’s a great pull for my clients at Stir Up Media who might need a graphic or web designer through to social media support – we have everything a business might need creatively under one roof, without having to charge “creative agency” fees.
With this, I get to rent a desk by the month and I can connect with real life people mixed with some working from home days for those ultra busy ones that need me to be stuck firmly to my home office – it’s flexible, cost effective for my needs and I won’t go stir crazy staring at the same beige walls of my third floor box room.
It’s said that we spend a third of our day in offices or our general work environment and sometimes the offices we have set up for us aren’t conducive to productivity or even our wellbeing. A quick walk around the block for a mini “commute” and a feng shui session with plants and greenery can sometimes help our productivity, however I find having other freelancers around me creates much more inspiration and motivation when it comes to getting things done.
So, what can people who are new to freelancer world expect to find when it comes to co working solutions?
The answer would, of course, depend on where they are situated, so this is my advice from my little world in Cambridge (UK) and my experiences so far. I’m more than open to ideas and new solutions, so I constantly have an eye out for the next workspace solution.
You could also spend a fortune on a trendy work pod for your back garden, or a “vintage shed” complete with bunting, but if you are on a budget these options aren’t as fabulous as they seem once you dig deeper financially or logistically.
There are many networking events in Cambridge and beyond, with co working spaces creeping up alongside to support the 7,000+ self-employed business owners in our region alone, where to try for your own co working needs?
A worldwide serviced-office facility offering physical AND virtual office space, as well as access to their business lounges, perfectly formed for the co worker who simply needs a desk on the odd occasion. You can take advantage of their individual Thinkpods, standing desks or selection of desks and chair solutions to respond to your emails and meet a client on the go. From just £19 per month, you can use any business lounge in the world, make yourself a complimentary cup of tea or coffee and connect to the wifi – available mostly during normal office hours.
In Cambridgeshire we have a Regus office in Cambourne, Histon and at the Cambridge Services (Boxworth) and you can find a recent guest blog I wrote for them on co working etiquette here.
No, this isn’t a fruit-flavoured dessert set into a wobbly elastic mass, typically enjoyed with ice cream or in a trifle… It is in fact a monthly (and free!) co working session hosted at ideaSpace just off Madingley Road in Cambridge. You can book through their Meetup page and you just pop along, grab a desk and connect to their wifi, which allows you to work whilst you network. I’ve been once so far and I was so impressed, it’s a fantastic space within a creative atmosphere and I got to brainstorm the odd idea around the table with my fellow freelancers.
At 4pm, the beers and nibbles come out and you can join in with winding down and bringing in the weekend… it’s a winner for me!
Cambridge Business Lounge
Located in central Cambridge, you’ll find Ed Goodman and his band of merry men (and women) working together on collaborative projects, sharing a well thought out co working space and hosting some innovative events and networking opportunities. You can simply “pay-as-you-go” for a desk or hire a monthly space, as well as making use of their meeting room facilities, it’s a great and friendly place to meet new people when hitting the City.
This is a fairly new offering for Cambridge and it’s one that’s working very well indeed for anybody looking for a central location.
Technically not a co working venue or an office space, but take your laptop along to this Cambridge institution and you won’t look out of place around this bakeries’ shared table with an espresso and world-famous Chelsea bun on the go!
This is a favourite hangout of mine when I have an hour or two to kill between meetings, their sweet treats and intense caffeine hits help creativity and offer a relaxed atmosphere when I’m in need of a creative writing session. If it’s good enough for the students of Cambridge University, then it’s most certainly good enough for me!
… Whilst talking about food, this is a new food collaborative beside Cambridge railway station and the genius behind local food-obsessive, Heidi White of whom was recently interviewed for the Stir Up Media Freelancer Friday series.
This is the perfect place to head to for some food-based networking within Cambridge’s own weekly street food affair, it’s well worth a try, currently hosted every Thursday & Friday with new plans around every corner.
The Soho Collective
OK, Toto, we’re not in
Kansas Cambridge anymore… But, this is on my co working hit list!
If you find yourself in London and in need of a trendy and simple co working solution, this is the kiddie for you. Nestled in Soho, this airy loft space hosts desks that can be rented by the day, week or month and it attracts creative brands and freelancers – perhaps it’s something to do with the bar and roof terrace they hide above Old Compton Street…?! It can even be rented out for private events, making this one venue I am heading to next time I’m in need of an office in the “Old Smoke”!
The Mystery Collaborative
This is my new professional digs and one that is about to launch a very exciting and innovative project… I can’t tell you what it is just yet, I know it’s teasing – it’ll be worth the wait! We haven’t quite got the name or finer details sorted, so you’ll hear all about it once we are ready to launch…
This is the perfect country retreat for those who don’t like the City of Cambridge on a regular basis, as beautiful as it may be! We even have a dog wandering around the office offering cuddles and walks when we’re in need, it’s a great way to lay my laptop personally – where else would I be offered a shot of vodka for my breakfast in the name of client research?… Oh, that’s my new office!
Should you be searching for a creative workspace yourself and be in need of a desk within a co working office, drop me a line as there may be one or two openings within this venue for you – simply get in touch for more info!
As you can see, co working is much more than just a desk within a shared office… Do you co work yourself? What options work best for you? Or which might work for you moving forward? Leave a comment below to share your thoughts.